Jshore: I am not arguing both for and against carbon sinks. The point about carbon sink allowances in Kyoto is that it causes different countries to be treated differently. After Kyoto is in place it will be cheaper to build factories in some countries than in others. That causes economic distortions.
Worst-case scenario is that it will speed up the flight of capital and factories to the third world. Not something I’m opposed to in principle, but for the purposes of Kyoto it’s a disaster, because many of these countries have even worse environmental controls than most of the Kyoto signatories already have. So the unintended consequence of Kyoto may be to make industry even more polluting and dirtier than it is today.
This is a separate issue from the issue of carbon sinks in general. That is a scientific issue, which reads like this: Is it cheaper to reduce CO2 at the source, or to build technologies to scrub it out of the atmosphere after it’s been released? I haven’t even seen this issue addressed by the supporters of Kyoto, even though there are some respected people who think that increasing the size or efficiency of our carbon sinks is a much more cost-effective way to achieve the same goal.
Also, disturbingly lacking from the Kyoto treaty is any real analysis of cost vs benefits. This is typical of the environmental movement, and it drives me nuts. They always frame the argument in terms of disaster vs big business. The concept seems to elude most of them that we can only afford to do so many things, and there are far more problems in the world than we have the resources to fix. Global warming is just one of them. If you want to impress skeptics like me, come back with numbers showing the cost of kyoto per life saved, or the economic cost of kyoto vs the economic cost of not implementing it, or a combination of both. Then convince me that it’s smart to spend huge sums of money to prevent 1 degree of warming over 50 years, vs spending the same amount of money on research into new energy sources, or curing cancer, or putting mankind into space, or building the infrastructure in the 3rd world so that it can become self-sufficient, or…
From what I can tell, in terms of cost/benefit Kyoto fares very poorly. It’s an extremely expensive solution to a problem that is increasingly looking not so much like a catastrophe as an economic annoyance. Even many of the most ardent global warming alarmists are pulling back from their wild predictions of huge sea level rises, major flooding of coastal cities, desertification of much arid land, etc. Instead, it looks a lot like global warming will result in economic damages in equatorial regions, and economic gains in temperate regions. The heating is largely taking the form of more mild nights and longer growing seasons in colder areas, rather than blistering heat and mass starvation.
As for these analyses that Kyoto could actually SAVE money… Show me. Point me to an analysis by a respected economics think-tank or even a respected economist. Because the only such ‘analysis’ I’ve seen comes from highly partisan environmentalist groups, and is basically just wishful thinking.
When I look for more reasonable analysis, even from ardent supporters of Kyoto, the number usually comes in at a median of about 500 billion a year, with some sources claiming a cost half that, and others a cost twice that amount.
But saving money? If that were the case, why wouldn’t companies do it anyway? Is there some force preventing energy companies from building plants that are cleaner AND cheaper?